I’ve neve been a huge fan of the East Coast. But, historic Bethlehem may have changed my mind. This historic city is just west of New York City in the hills of Pennsylvania. Immersed in history, art, microbrews, architecture, and tourism, Bethlehem is a city you can’t miss for a day trip.
A Day in Historic Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
During a recent layover, I spent a day based in the southern part of the Bethlehem Historic District. Our hotel is nestled at the base of the hills to the south of town and the Lehigh River, a tributary to the Delaware to the north. This side of the river has the Southside Arts and Shopping district. Across to the north is the Historic Moravian and Shopping District. There are plenty of greenways, paths, parks, and friendly streets to walk on throughout all parts of Bethlehem.
Important Links Before Your Visit
The Southern Arts District
Sculptures and large painted murals can be found throughout the city. Bethlehem is thick with young minds and expression. Make sure to walk the South Bethlehem Greenway. It runs from the Hill to Hill Bridge on the West and travels further East throughout the district. The Greenway is parallel to main street and is a great way to get through town without dealing with traffic.
A Walk Through The Historic Moravian and Shopping District.
The southwest corner of the Historic Moravian and Shopping District is the epicenter of historical architecture, but a simple walk through the city will bring you to some other interesting neighborhoods and historic architecture as well.
I started my walk by crossing the Fahy Bridge to the north side of the Lehigh River. This bridge brings you directly to the public library. When you get there, take a right and the road will make a lazy turn to the north up a little hill. There is a beautiful cemetery you can visit as your first stop on the walk. It is a very peaceful place and the somberness of the cemetery and gentle breeze through the trees was a very relaxing place to start the journey through Bethlehem.
Walk north on Center Street and you will enjoy towering hardwood trees lining each side of the street and old Victorian and other historic homes. I had never found the East Coast to be a particularly charming place until I spent a day here. This is just a taste of the many wonderfully built homes with their manicured gardens and pathways.
Turn west on Broad Street. The sidewalks are beautiful. They are full of color from both the buildings and the gardens. The street has many restaurants, shops and places to visit. I loved the rose gardens!
Save the best for last at Main Street. Make sure to walk south back toward the river. It is mostly downhill and the views of the hill down the street make a gorgeous background to the historic street.
I stopped in a few shops to get a little better experience of the rich history. One recommendation I have is the Bethlehem Brewworks on the corner of Main and Broadway. The street is filled with outdoor patios, gardens, and tourists.
Other notable places on this strip are the Sun House, the Hotel Bethlehem, and the Central Moravian Church. Finishing out the walk on Church Street will lead you by the Monrovian Museum of Bethlehem and back toward the public library. Many of these buildings date back to the early to mid-1700’s.
I found that I really enjoyed walking Historic Bethlehem. It was an interesting mix of history, architecture, and East Coast charm. This is one city I would like to return to.
Do you like to travel? Makes sure to check out some of our other day trips.
You may also like our Day 9 All American Road Trip too.